When Microsoft launched Windows 8, the company made it clear that the platform was all about apps. Everything was tiled and easily accessible, and though there may be some hiccups, everything was just a click or two away.
In the meantime, Google has expanded from being just a search engine to being almost anything and everything you can think of.
And with Google Chrome OS now celebrating its 5th birthday, the search giant rolled out something that would make Microsoft clean up its act.
On its official blog, Google announced the launch of its next generation Chrome apps, which bring “together the speed, security and flexibility of the modern web with the powerful functionality previously only available with software installed on your devices.”
Google knows how people have grown accustomed to using apps on their mobile devices and it knows that people are looking for the same experience on their desktop. Along with the launch of the new Chrome Apps comes the Chrome App Launcher, which would allow users to easily access apps they’ve downloaded from the Chrome Web Store on their desktop, without having to open their Chrome browser.
To get the Chrome App Launcher, go to the Chrome Web App store and download an app. This automatically pins the launcher onto your taskbar if you’re using Windows 7 or 8. If you wish to remove the app launcher, just right click on the pin and select “Unpin this program from the taskbar.”
Aside from giving users easy access to the apps they love, the new Chrome Apps also offer offline access so even if there’s no internet connection you can continue working or playing games. The apps are updated silently and automatically so bugs are fixed faster to. Added to that is Chrome’s built-in security features, such as Sandboxing, so you can sleep soundly knowing that your computer isn’t at risk of being invaded by malware.
The new Chrome Apps can access and save the documents, photos and videos on your hard drive as well as on Google Drive and other web services; interact with USB, Bluetooth and other devices connected to your desktop, including digital cameras; get reminders, updates and even take action, right from the notification center with desktop notifications. And of course, because it relies on your Google account, even if you’re using a different computer, you can just sign in using the Chrome browser to access all your apps. It’s like having your desktop available to you anywhere you go, without having to bring your own laptop.
At launch, there are more than 50 Chrome Apps available in the Chrome Web Store and more are expected to come as developers begin to realize the benefit of being one. Some of the most popular Chrome Apps that Google recommends are Pixlr Touch Up, which lets you perform simple photo touch ups; Wunderlist, which is a to-do-list app that has voice dictations and desktop notifications; and Cracking Sands, an action-packed racing game featuring beautiful 3D courses.
Launching Chrome Apps and Chrome App Launcher has been compared to Google launching a Trojan Horse. Google knows that Chrome OS is not very popular, and so instead of pressuring consumers to purchase new devices running Chrome OS, it’s launched its app ecosystem on top of Windows and OS X. This step also brings the mobile app experience to the desktop, which means consumers would be pretty pleased with the speed at which these apps launch.
“Users don’t care what technology their apps are built with,” says Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, a project manager overseeing the Chrome Apps push. “Users may not even fully grasp what it means to be a Chrome App, and that’s okay. We want Chrome Apps to be so good you don’t even realize it’s something different.”